Hello there and welcome back to yet another guitar review! This time we will look at one of my latest purchases, Epiphone Les Paul Custom Ebony! I was eyeing single-cut design, Les Paul-type guitars for a long time and seriously wanted to experience how this iconic guitar design would feel in my hands. To try out this sensation without busting the bank, I decided to get an Epiphone Les Paul Custom Ebony along with Thomann’s guitar service. However, even though the guitar sounded excellent with extraordinary craftsmanship, the frets were so upsetting!
Table of Contents
TL;DR: I believe Epiphone Les Paul Custom Ebony offers excellent value for your money, but watch out and try to buy one by trying multiple in a shop. Also, Thomann’s guitar service is pretty mediocre!
As I always do, I will provide you with many details and a no-talking demo video! So stick around and let’s get started!
For those who have never heard of Epiphone, here’s a quick introduction!
Epiphone is a well-known guitar manufacturing company that traces its origins back to the late 19th century. The company was established in 1873 by Anastasios Stathopoulos in Smyrna, Ottoman Empire (now Izmir, Turkey – interestingly this is my hometown! 🙂).
Initially, Epiphone focused on making traditional Greek instruments, but it eventually shifted its focus to guitars. In the early 20th century, the company moved to the United States and gained a reputation for producing high-quality, affordable guitars.
Epiphone guitars became popular among musicians for their craftsmanship and sound. Over the years, Epiphone has manufactured a wide range of guitar models, including archtops, solid bodies, and semi-hollow bodies.
One notable aspect of Epiphone‘s history is its association with Gibson, another prominent guitar manufacturer. Gibson acquired Epiphone in 1957, and since then, Epiphone has operated as a subsidiary of Gibson. This collaboration has allowed Epiphone to benefit from Gibson’s expertise and technology while maintaining its distinct identity.
Epiphone guitars are widely used by musicians across various genres, and the brand is known for offering instruments that provide good value for their price. The company continues to produce a diverse range of guitars, catering to the needs of both beginners and experienced players. Epiphone guitars are recognized for their versatility, making them a popular choice in the music industry.
Epiphone was always one of my favourite brands while I was working in the musical instruments industry. Even their most affordable guitars would sound and play great almost right out of the box.
Check out my Epiphone guitar reviews
With the extremely high level of competition in the musical instrument industry, guitar brands have been putting so much effort into improving the quality of entry and mid-segmented guitars. Recently, Epiphone has also put a lot of effort into making really cool guitars under their “Inspired by Gibson” series.
Epiphone Les Paul Custom
Epiphone Les Paul Custom was released back in 2020, but not for the first time! There were previous iterations of the same model under the same or similar model names featuring slightly different specs.
However, I believe the latest Epiphone Les Paul Custom Ebony is probably the closest thing to an actual Gibson Les Paul Custom Ebony. As I featured in my Epiphone SG Custom Review article, I would like to share with you a deep-dive video by the legendary Guitaristas channel.
Who doesn’t love Mister Colin? One of the greatest YouTube guitar therapy channels ever!
Even though some people say, it’s even better than a Gibson Les Paul Custom, I have to disagree. Unfortunately, at this price range, you shouldn’t expect the level of Gibson’s quality control. I know that even Gibson is criticised for their mediocre quality checks from time to time, but let’s be realistic!
As I said, I really wanted to experience a proper Les Paul design without busting the bank. Though as much as I wanted to bust the bank and go mental for the one and only Gibson Les Paul Custom Ebony, I don’t think I can ever justify this amount of jump in the price tag. I mean, a proper Gibson version costs around 6 times more than an Epiphone version!
However, I do believe that if you are paying more than 2500EUR for a guitar in the EU, you are probably paying for the brand value as well as the transportation costs as well. But that doesn’t change the fact that I will also get a Gibson Les Paul one day! 🙂
Before I give you my honest and detailed review, let’s have a quick look at the tech specs first!
Epiphone Les Paul Custom Ebony Tech Specs
|Construction||Set Neck (Glued In)|
|Neck||Mahogany, 60s SlimTaper™|
|Scale||628.65mm (24.75 inches)|
|Pickups||Epiphone ProBucker™ 3 (Bridge) and Epiphone ProBucker™ 2 (Neck)|
|Controls||3-way Pickup Selector, Separate Tone and Volume Pots (CTS Pots)|
|Radius||304.48mm (12 inches)|
|Frets||22, Medium Jumbo|
|Bridge||Epiphone LockTone™ Tune-O-Matic™ with Epiphone LockTone™ Stop Bar|
|Nut||Graph Tech® NuBone®|
|Tuners||Grover® Rotomatic® 18:1|
As you can see from the tech specs as well as the deep-dive video by Guitaristas, it’s even closer to the original Gibson Les Paul Custom in some ways. It definitely doesn’t feature a long neck tenon and doesn’t have a maple cap just like the original LP Custom. Advertisement - Please click these ads and support the website
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Epiphone Les Paul Custom is a traditional LP-type guitar as one could ever expect. It features a mahogany body with a set neck (glued-in) mahogany neck and an ebony fingerboard.
It comes with Epiphone‘s ProBucker 2 and ProBucker 3 pickups which are Epiphone’s take on Gibson Burstbucker pickups. Epiphone LP Custom also features Grover Rotomatic tuners which is a great addition!
It also features an Epiphone LockTone™ Tune-O-Matic™ bridge with an Epiphone LockTone™ Stop Bar.
Epiphone SG Custom vs Epiphone Les Paul Custom Specs?
I was really curious regarding tech specs and how these compare against my Epiphone SG Custom Ebony. After a quick check, I just found out that the Epiphone LP Custom is a step up from the SG Custom version with better hardware.
Check out my Epiphone SG Custom Ebony review here
I think the pickups, the ebony fingerboard which is supposed to be identical and the tuners make LP Custom stand out and I believe this is reflected in the price tag too!
Before we dive into my review of Epiphone Les Paul Custom Ebony, I would like to share my no-talking review and sound demo with you! In this video, I used my Epiphone Les Paul Custom Ebony along with Marshall JVM410H, Red Seven Amp Central IR Loader/Load Box directly into my RME Babyface PRO audio interface. I also added Eventide SP2016 reverb as an effect.
Epiphone Les Paul Custom Ebony Review & Sound Demo (no talking)
Epiphone Les Paul Custom Ebony Review
As I mentioned, I was itching for a traditional Les Paul-type guitar because I never owned one before. I had already played many LP-shaped, single-cut guitars by many different brands such as Epiphone, Cort, Jay Turser, Schecter (SGR), ESP LTD, Washburn, Cort, Charvel and PRS even an actual Gibson LP that came into our shop. But this was almost a decade ago and I wanted to experience its traditional sounds with my current setup and see if I’m missing anything in my guitar collection!
Even though there are many alternative LP designs, and single-cut guitars in the market, I prefer to experience something authentic and as close as possible to the original design and vibe. Unfortunately, getting a Gibson LP is not always easy and it requires a huge investment in the EU (for my budget of course!).
Thomann’s Guitar Service and Some Issues!
After I researched Epiphone Les Paul Custom Ebony online and went through a lot of user reviews, I decided to get one! However, I noticed many people stated that it would be still a gamble buying online as Epiphone’s quality control is not consistent. For this reason, I contacted Thomann to order a guitar service. They said they could happily do it for 45EUR and I asked them also to restring my guitar with a set of Elixir strings that I just bought along with my guitar.
The guitar arrived a couple of days later and I was blown away by everything except two, highly critical things! There were high frets and some of them were really causing notes to choke down. Especially the 14th fret on the D string was pretty bad. I checked the frets with a StewMac Fret Rocker and noticed a lot of high frets. Not all of them caused an issue but some of them did.
I also noticed an issue with the open G string as it would generate some ringing noises. When fretted, this would go away but the open G note was ringing due to the deeply cut nut slot.
At the moment, I’m trying to resolve this with Thomann and I must say I’m pretty disappointed with their service and responses. Eventually, they wanted to check the guitar again and now this guitar is on its way back to Thomann. I will be updating this part of the article and also planning to publish another one to focus on Thomann’s guitar services soon! So you’d better stay tuned as you will never be able to find such insights into their services on any other websites on the internet!
The headstock features the classic Kalamazoo design a.k.a. Sloped Dove Wing style with a bigger diamond. I said bigger because according to Epiphone SG Custom and Les Paul Custom owners, when these series were first released, they featured a smaller diamond! I did not even notice that! However, I checked my SG Custom and noticed it was already a bigger diamond.
I think the headstock looks so awesome and inspirational, especially at this price range! All the details were spot-on and beautifully carved on the headstock!
As mentioned, tuners are proper Grover Rotomatic ones and they are flawless! There was no tuning issue or instability at all! Also, these tuners definitely feel way better than the ones on my Epiphone SG Custom!
The neck is Epiphone‘s slim taper 60’s style neck, featuring mahogany and ebony fingerboard. It’s a chunky neck in comparison to my other instruments but I find it very similar to my Epiphone SG Custom‘s neck as well. I believe they can be even identical. However, due to the body design and how this design shifts its position on your lap, it may feel different.
As I said, I was blown away by most of the things about this instrument! The neck was one of them, especially the very consistent, dark ebony fingerboard is so impressive. It sounds so snappy that has a deep, resonant vibration and translates the string vibrations across the entire instrument easily.
The craftsmanship around the neck, binding and fret ends were perfect! At first, this guitar did not feel comfortable at all! I felt like I was holding a huge piece of chunky wood and did not enjoy it. But the more I played it, the better I felt about this design.
Pickups and Electronics
I think these are where this guitar really excels! Epiphone ProBucker2 (8.01K) and ProBucker3 (8.6K) pickups sound so awesome! I was blown away by their character and how they responded to my playing. These pickups are Epiphone’s take on the original Gibson Burstbuckers and according to some of the comparison videos made by Epiphone, ProBuckers are very close to the originals!
They sound very creamy and chimey at the same time and generate extremely clear tones which I have fallen in love with already! This was exactly why I wanted to experience a Les Paul design without busting the bank. By having purchased an Epiphone Les Paul Custom, I can now easily conclude that the Gibson Les Paul can be my thing!
As in the SG Custom version, the Epiphone Les Paul Custom also features CTS pots! As many of you know, CTS pots are the industry standard for high-grade instruments and audio devices (retail price is around 10 euros each!). Extremely smooth and clean operation in all settings!
The Pickup Selector!
In contrary to that excellent decision for using CTS pots, the pickup selector must be upgraded to a proper one! You will highly likely hear this comment from many other LP Custom owners that these selectors get stuck in between positions. I have the exact experience with it and am pretty much annoyed by it!
Bridge and Tailpiece
The bridge and tailpiece are Epiphone LockTone™ Tune-O-Matic™ and LockTone™ Stop Bar. In comparison to my SG Custom Ebony, the tailpiece belongs to Epiphone’s LockTone series and not just a standard one. I think the difference between them is only LockTone features a tailpiece that is locked on the posts.
With these types of bridges, there’s usually an annoying problem with the springs. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, as the bridge design features a spring to create tension between the screws and saddles, these sometimes may cause some rattling noises. Fixing this issue is not a big task, however, I really dislike this design just because of this reason!
I usually upgrade my bridges to a better, no-spring version on all my guitars featuring Tune-O-Matic type of bridges. On my Epiphone SG Custom, I have the identical problem as well! Fortunately, Epiphone Les Paul Custom did not have this issue with the bridge. So far, there’s been no rattling issue at all!
Overall, I’m blown away by this instrument and seriously regret not having owned one before! As I mentioned, this purchasing decision has helped me a lot about whether I would enjoy a traditional LP design guitar or not! I absolutely loved it, however, I have also become aware of its limitations as well. Epiphone Les Paul Custom is not for everyone, it feels like a huge block of resonant wood that’s on the heavy side (mine was 4.1kg).
When you start playing this guitar, I can guarantee you that you will feel the deep vibration this design can generate! Note that, there’s no comfort cut on this guitar. You will also feel these especially if you are used to more modern designs or guitar designs that feature comfort cuts and tummy cuts.
It is not as easy as with other guitars to access higher registers, but one should accept that this is the original design which also comes with the original limitations. If you are planning to shred on the highest registers, I would say pass this guitar. But if you are into blues, jazz, rock and similar genres, you should experience it. There’s a reason why these LPs have become iconic models and still deliver throughout decades!
As I mentioned in the article, I’m currently trying to resolve the quality control issue with Thomann and hopefully will get this solved. So my advice would be that if you want to experience this iconic guitar design without busting the bunk, either go to a music store and try as many as possible. Or do not buy a guitar service from Thomann as they simply approve what Chinese factories approve which is way below my standards. I strongly believe at this price tag, you can definitely expect better “fretwork” and “nutwork”!
Check out what other Epiphone LP Custom owners talk about!
I hope you have enjoyed this real guitar review article and materials. Thanks for visiting my blog and supporting me so far! I will hopefully see you in the next review here!
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